Samantha, Syria and the use of power

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Did you ever wonder why we have been teetering on the brink of war with Syria when virtually no one in America wants to go to war?

The answer can be summed up in two words: Samantha Power.

Power is the new American ambassador to the United Nations and a longtime foreign-policy adviser to President Barack Obama. She is also a dangerously radical proponent of military intervention in humanitarian crises around the globe.

Such a feel-good response to atrocities is guaranteed to turn the United States into just what most of us say we don’t want the country to become — the world’s policeman. We have neither the money, the manpower, nor the stomach to chase down and vanquish bad guys just because they are bad. First of all, there are just too many of them. Second of all, who made us judge, jury and executioner?

Yes, we hate genocide. Yes, we yearn for compliance with human rights and basic decency, but no we cannot respond militarily to all the horrors in the world. That is a sisyphean task that would drain us of our resources, our independence and ultimately our conscience as we became prisoners of our own power.

Yet that is just what Samantha Power wants us to do. A former journalist and lawyer, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” — a treatise aimed at shaming the United States for not intervening in various humanitarian crises of the 20th century. And that interventionist agenda is what she brings to the table as a key member of the Obama foreign-policy team.

She was one of the loudest voices arguing that the United States needed to intervene militarily in Libya. We all know how that turned out, even though we prefer not to talk about the dead ambassador who paid the price for our policies.

Power also has her fingerprints all over the (temporarily?) aborted plan to strike Syria’s Assad regime in the wake of a chemical attack that killed hundreds of people. The goal of our planned response wasn’t military victory or even regime change — it was preventing the use of chemical weapons and forcing Assad and his opponents to slaughter each other with conventional means. As Secretary of State John Kerry said, the attack on Syria would be an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort” aimed entirely at leveraging obedience while almost certainly engendering vengeance instead.

This is by any calculation a perverse exercise of power that ought to have raised the hackles of all self-respecting liberals, yet because President Obama, Kerry and Power have well-burnished liberal credentials themselves, there has been hardly a complaint from the left.

Fortunately, we have bought some time, thanks to the United States being out-maneuvered by Russia’s President Putin, but Syria isn’t the only place around the world where thugs are doing bad things to people. So don’t be surprised if our new United Nations ambassador starts pushing for limited military action somewhere else in the Middle East, Africa, Asia — heck, who knows where?

Indeed, if Samantha Power has her way, America has a duty to talk loudly and carry an “unbelievably small” stick — a sure-fire equation for foreign policy disaster.

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